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Swine Flu FAQ

Answers to your questions about swine flu.
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Help! I've been exposed to H1N1 swine flu. What should I do?

If you come into close contact with a person who has the flu -- especially if that person did not cover a cough or sneeze when you were within 6 feet -- you've been exposed. Exposure does not guarantee infection or illness, so there's still a good chance you won't get the flu.

What you should do next depends on your risk for getting severe disease and on the risk of severe disease in others with whom you cannot avoid contact.

If you have any of the conditions that put you at increased risk of severe H1N1 swine flu -- pregnancy, asthma, lung disease, diabetes, heart disease, neurologic disease, immune suppression, or other chronic conditions -- it may be riskier for you to get the flu than for other people. That also goes for children under age 2 years, young people under age 19 taking daily aspirin therapy, and people over age 65. And if you are a caretaker for an infant under age 6 months, that child is at risk of severe disease if he or she catches the flu from you.

The CDC advises against the use of the anti-flu drugs Tamiflu and Relenza to keep exposed people from getting the flu. That's because most of the few cases of drug-resistant H1N1 swine flu have popped up in people taking Tamiflu to prevent flu.

Instead, the CDC advises at-risk individuals to call their health care providers if they are exposed to flu. The provider may choose to write a prescription for Tamiflu or Relenza, to be filled only if flu symptoms appear. Or the provider may ask the patient to call again at the first sign of flu, at which time a prescription will be written.

Don't wait for a rapid flu test. The tests often give negative results even in people who really have H1N1 swine flu. If you've got flu symptoms and you're at risk of severe disease, start taking flu drugs right away. The drugs work best when taken within 48 hours of the first symptom, although even when taken much later they can prevent severe illness.

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